Research at the Institute of Place Management

Since the 1980s Manchester Metropolitan University researchers have been studying change in the retail sector and retail locations such as town centres. They have produced over 300 academic articles, won major prizes and awards as well as undertaking a number of applied research projects for the private, public and third-sector.

Their research has been used to influence a variety of policy decisions, in the area of retail competition, planning and improving town and city centres. MMU researchers administered the influential High Street Britain 2015 Inquiry, on behalf of the UK Parliament's All Party Small Shops Group.

Researchers have led major consortia and projects, such as the £3.6m Retail Enterprise Network and the £2.4m Agora project both funded by the European Union. The group has just completed a £244,000 ESRC project, High Street UK 2020 and is just about to begin another 2 year study on big data and town centres.

After creating the Institute of Place Management in 2006, the group has gradually broadened its research interest into general place management, marketing and branding, attracting a number of PhD students nationally and internationally, as well as launching the Journal of Place Management and Development. Since 2008 researchers have led the way in socio-cultural research in the impact of lighting on public places, exploring how lighting contributes to social cohesion and enhancing place identity. We have also published research that investigates the significance of stadium development in cities.

We continue to expand our understanding of consumer behaviour in places, the interpretation of place brands, the influence of culture and evaluations of places. Our place management research is becoming more policy-focussed, for example, by developing better tools and techniques to inform place decision making. 

Our current/recent research projects at the Institute of Place Management are:

Understanding the marketing research and intelligence requirements of place partnerships and place managers

Improving the customer experience in retail: bring big data to small users

High Street UK2020: Improving town and city centre vitality and viability. 

The impact of litter on places and brands

Socio-cultural impact of lighting and lighting festivals

Town profiling by footfall:  Understanding the impact of on-line retailing on off-line channels

The contribution of markets to individual locations and society

Multifunctional centres: a sustainable role for town and city centres

Socially sustainable degrowth and place marketing 

Our research priorities for 2016/2017 are:

Understanding the marketing research and intelligence requirements of place partnerships and place managers

Understanding how retail centres are changing post-internet - including differences in how people perceive the function of places

Exploring different partnership structures in place management

Using technology to improve the customer experience in retail locations

Understanding negative impacts upon place perceptions and attitudes

For more information about our research contact Professor Cathy Parker ( or Dr Steve Millington (